Hundreds of public service workers are killed each year and thousands are injured in workplace-related accidents.
Law enforcement officers and firefighters are the public service employees most likely to be killed in the line of duty, with around 270 deaths occurring in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Exercising caution and following best safety practices can help keep municipal employees safe, whether their job is chasing criminals, fighting fires, or repairing power lines. Here are a few tips that can help:
- Partner up – The adage that “There’s safety in numbers” is true, particularly for public workers. Municipal workers often work with heavy machines or in dangerous situations. Having a partner ensures that no one is ever left alone without help if they are injured or trapped, or become ill.
- Conflict resolution training – Police aren’t the only public workers that have to deal with irate citizens. Meter readers, firefighters, and even cashiers at municipal facilities must deal with hostile or intoxicated people from time to time. Learning how to de-escalate conflicts can help avoid dangerous incidents.
- Create a culture of safety – Safety training should be constantly reinforced among public employees. Employees should be encouraged to speak up when they see a potential safety risk. Management must be trained to take employee safety concerns seriously.
- Proper maintenance – Gear can go a long way toward keeping public employees safe. Municipalities need to invest in ensuring police, fire, sanitation, utilities, and other workers all have equipment that is of good quality and that is maintained properly.
- Maintain communication – Good communication can help municipal employees get fast access to help when they need it. In emergency situations, every second can be precious, so delays in communication are to be avoided. Maintaining good two-way radios, including waterproof walkie-talkies, can provide a critical lifeline for municipal employees responding to emergency situations. With reliable two-way radio communication, employees can report emergency situations, call for backup or assistance, and ask their leadership for advice on how to proceed in potentially dangerous scenarios.